Texas should not sacrifice integrity for wins

Khadija Saifullah

Texas’ football season came to an end with the loss of its head coach Charlie Strong, who was fired for not bringing adequate improvement to the team.

College football in Texas is an underlying disaster. It’s consumed with drugs, rape culture, corruption, ignorance, racism and elitism when it should be celebrating a great game and a great state. The flaws of its system and culture are the elephant in the room that almost no one is willing to publicly  acknowledge.

We put people, players and programs on pedestals at the expense of almost anything else. No school or program is without scandal. It’s a mess that is uncomfortable to acknowledge, let alone confront, due to how embedded it’s become. In the midst of this mess, someone had to stand up and take it upon himself to do what they could to abate the symptoms, even if it didn’t yield wins — Charlie Strong did just that.

Charlie could have done more with time. He might have been more successful if he hadn’t been undermined during his entire three-year tenure. Regardless of the team’s improvement not being good enough, he has given his players a reason to never back down.

He aspired to higher levels of decency and compassion than any of his contemporaries or coaching peers dared to. He treated his athletes with respect and taught them to treat others the same way they would want to be treated. He cut players who didn’t follow these rules and willingly took care of those who were willing to learn.

Football is complicated, with a stark difference between the glory of the game and the reality of the people playing it. Strong believed in guiding his players first, and winning football games second. Sure, it shows in our losses, many of which have been an embarrassment. But I’ll take that embarrassment with the pride I have for a team of students desperately trying to rise above expectations by becoming model citizens and students.

Strong was the only African-American head coach in the history of the program. Aside from the core values he instilled within his team, his very presence left an impact on Texas football. It represented progress in a deeper and more valuable way. Even if he’s remembered for his losing record or his three-year tenure, the effect that he’s had and the values for which he stood up for will continue to live on for the future of Texas football.

Saifullah is neuroscience junior from Richardson. Follow her on twitter @coolstorysunao